Game of the Month: Shove Groat

by Dagonell the Juggler

Shove Groat is a gambling game Vikings played on long sea-voyages to pass the time. The traditional playing pieces were groats, large heavy coins, hence the name. An American quarter is the lightest coin you should consider using. American half-dollars, "Suzies", Canadian "Loonies", and two dollar coins work better. If you don't want to rummage through your pockets or run to the bank every time you want to play the game, buy a package of large heavy washers and keep them with your game board.

The game board itself is divided into horizontal sections, much like a football field without yardage numbers. Players sit where the end zones would be. The number of sections is arbitrary. Ten is a convenient number. The sections themselves should be uniform in width, however the width chosen is also arbitrary. The wider the width, the easier the game; the narrower, the harder. I have found that making the sections one and a quarter times as wide as the coins being used works best. The length of each section is the width of the game board from player left to player right. This length is also arbitrary and doesn't affect play. The board is illustrated below.

                                     PLAYER 2
                            +-----------------------+
                            | 1                  10 |
                            +-----------------------+
                            | 2                   9 |
                            +-----------------------+
                            | 3                   8 |
                            +-----------------------+
                            | 4                   7 |
                            +-----------------------+
                            | 5                   6 |
                            +-----------------------+
                            | 6                   5 |
                            +-----------------------+
                            | 7                   4 |
                            +-----------------------+
                            | 8                   3 |
                            +-----------------------+
                            | 9                   2 |
                            +-----------------------+
                            | 10                  1 |
                            +-----------------------+
                                     PLAYER 1

Players take turns placing a set number of coins in the section closest to them with the trailing edge extending off the board. Using either thumb and middle finger, or the heel of the palm, players strike their coins (or shove their groats ;-) into the different sections of the game board. To score, a coin must lie completely within a section without touching a line. Subsequent coins may knock a coin into or out of scoring position.

There are two variations of the game. In the first variation, each section is given a point value based on it's distance from the player. A coin landing in that section, scores that point value. A coin leaving the board incurs a negative penalty score. First player to reach a predetermined score wins.

In the second version, a player must score exactly twice in every section. Additional coins in the same section score for the opponent if they still need points in that section. Subsequent scores in that section are ignored. There is no penalty for a coin leaving the board. First player to score twice in every section wins.